By Zia Haq
Procurement of kharif or summer-sown rice by the Food Corporation of India (FCI), the federal agency that stocks state-owned cereals for public distribution, has declined steadily over the past three years, data cited in a Parliament reply on Wednesday showed.
In 2020-21, the year Covid-19 pandemic broke out, procurement peaked at 60.2 million tonne, an answer in the Lok Sabha by minister of state for food and public distribution Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti to a question by Congress MP Deepak Baij showed.
Procurement refers to the government’s purchases of rice from farmers at the floor or minimum support price.
The government’s procurement in 2021-22 dropped 5% to 57.5 million tonne. In 2022-23, rice procurement stood at 56.8 million tonne, registering a further fall of 1%. To stem high food inflation, India has banned export of rice and wheat, while easing import duties on certain types of pulses.
One of the reasons for lower procurement is that farmers found it far more lucrative to sell to private buyers in these years, as market prices ruled above MSP amid robust exports, said analyst Rahul Chouhan of IGrain Pvt Ltd. “This also shows that actual production could be lower than official estimates,” he said.
For 2022-23, the government had fixed an MSP of ₹2,040 for common variety of paddy, the price at which the FCI bought from farmers.
According to provisional official data, production of summer-grown rice in 2022-23 stood at108 million tonne, against a target of 112 million tonne. In 2021-22, the country produced 111 million tonne of summer rice, while in 2020-21, the country produced 104 million tonne of rice in the kharif season.
This article has been republished from The Hindustan Times.